As I was reminded last week, longtime fans of a thing really do not like when someone else decides, much later, that they also like that thing. For one’s appreciation to count, it has to come immediately, or at least around the same time you started liking it, even if you yourself were a year or two late. I’m not saying I’m better. I find it slightly annoying whenever anyone gets really into Schitt’s Creek now, because I was yammering on about how much I liked it in early 2017. Ostensibly we should want other people to agree with us, but what we want even more than that is to be smug, and to think of ourselves as discerning and cool.
So I’m not going to blow anyone’s mind here when I say that the TV show Frasier, which aired from 1993 to 2004 and won 37 Emmys, is great. Or at least I won’t blow anyone’s mind but my own. As a kid Frasier was a show my parents allowed us to watch with them, which meant it was boring. (I was not allowed to watch Friends, which made it the only thing I wanted to watch.) And it is, to a 12-year-old. The jokes flew right over my crabby little head. There were no cute boys on it. Everything was beige.
These are things that make Frasier all the more enjoyable to me now. Its problems are distinctly adult, which doesn’t mean they aren’t funny (like all the wine snob jokes when Frasier and Niles both vie to be president of wine club). I laughed out loud so often through the show’s early seasons that I surprised myself. For years I’d maintained that Frasier was boring and unfunny, I guess because that was the decision 12-year-old me made, and apparently she knew everything. You don’t have to tell me that’s dumb. I know. That is the entire reason I’m here.
What, in our modern binge-crazy television era, is more joyful than discovering you like an old show, and then realizing you have ten whole seasons to watch? When I discovered that I like Frasier, and saw how much of it I had left to consume, I felt like I was receiving a gift from my past, misguided self. I love the brotherly sparring. I love Martin razzing his unexpectedly fusty sons. I love all Niles’s jokes about his sex-addict seminars and compulsive spenders’ seminars (“I’m hoping to unload all these raffle tickets,” ha ha). I relate to Niles’s deep neuroticism, and as eldest among my siblings, I also relate to Frasier’s self-righteousness. I love it all, and there is so much of it.
Like any show that runs for a decade, Frasier has weaker moments, like most (not all!) of seasons eight and nine. I’m still puttering along through season ten, having lost my early season momentum. I liked it better when Niles and Daphne weren’t yet together, which is also how most of us felt about Jim and Pam, and Ross and Rachel, yadda yadda. But it’s still comforting. It’s still perfect for cool autumn nights. There are so many interesting sweaters on this show.
I also find it interesting to watch Frasier after having seen every episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. When you first meet Camille Grammer, and she’s still with Kelsey, you’re like … yikes. Then they split up — he leaves her for a younger woman — and she enjoys a brief period as the best housewife on the show, talking all kinds of shit about Kelsey and his weird sex stuff. Later she becomes the worst one, again, but it’s a bright spot in the show for me. Kelsey Grammer seems like he probably sucks as a person, but Frasier Crane is delightful, a good brother and a good friend.
There is so much TV now, and so much of it is high-concept. Too high-concept. This must be at least part of the reason why Gen Z kids are still obsessed with Friends, and The Office. Frasier is just a show about two psychologist brothers and their dad. They go through normal work and life stuff together. There are like, four main set locations they cycle between. And yet, surprises abound. I highly recommend it. I can’t believe I am literally the first person to do so.